After a week in Srinagar, the roads were finally in good enough condition for us to be able to leave for the mountains.
We drove for a couple of hours up the valley, past beautiful terraced rice paddies and tiny rural villages, to reach Naranag. This remote settlement nestled at the foot of the Himalayas is known locally as the ‘Gypsy village’, after the ethnic group of the self sufficient, semi Nomadic mountain people who live here. We quickly realised that they bore no resemblence to the caravan-dwelling Gypsys we have in the UK!
We stayed the night in Naranag, which was interrupted by a black bear trying to steal corn from the fields. Fortunately for us, the barking dogs scared it away!
The next morning we headed up a steep track, with 2 local guides and 4 pack horses. The village is at an altitude of roughly 2,800m, and so we were both panting for the first few hours of ascent, after which the path levelled out, with us reaching base camp (approx 3,500 – 4,000m) in time for lunch.
The next couple of days we set off on walks from camp, reaching two beautiful glacial lakes on the first day, and climbing to the top of the ridge for an incredible panorama on the second day. The scenery up here is stunning; many mountain areas at a similar altitude are bare and arid, but here was lush and alpine-esque, with pine forests and flowers.
We’ve now returned to the Dundoo family home in Srinagar, where the floodwater has fallen significantly but is still covering all of the major roads. We are hoping to head out of Kashmir as soon as possible, to continue with our journey through Northern India.